Rattlesnakes without rattlers increasing

Rattlesnakes without rattlers?

That is what researchers have found in South Dakota where the prairie rattlesnake is the only venomous snake to be found.

Over the past couple of years, Terry Phillipp (of Reptile Gardens in Rapid City( has noticed many rattlesnakes with what he calls “curly-Q” tails.  Imagine the tail on a pig, and you’ll get the idea. Phillipp says the tail muscles on these snakes have atrophied, and accordingly, can’t move the rattle. Rattlesnakes can camouflage themselves well, and, if they’re not heard, they’re likely not killed.

“And so the snakes that have that genetic defect—it is a genetic defect—those are the ones that are surviving,” Phillipp says. “They then reproduce, and they pass along that genetic defect to their offspring.”

A prairie rattlesnake hidden in the grass. National Park Service photo.

Phillip’s theory is that if the rattlesnakes that announce themselves are spotted and killed, those with the defective tails are breeding and creating more snakes that can’t rattle.

It is an interesting phenomena and is the type of adaptation that makes sense. With an increasing human presence in most wild areas, encounters with rattlesnakes are increasing and most of the time that equals a dead rattler.

To read the full story click here.

Chester Moore, Jr.

3 thoughts on “Rattlesnakes without rattlers increasing

  1. Richard Harmier

    What a great example of speciation within a kind like Darwin’s finches. What an awesome creator God is to design even the serpent with such an ability adapt and survive. Look at the time frame needed for this adaptation. The encroachment of man on these snakes has been relatively short. QUESTION: Is a rattlesnake that can”t make any noise still a rattler ? Maybe we need to call them RINOS “rattlers in name only”

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